Key Difference: Laws are actually rules and guidelines that are set up by the social institutions to govern behavior. These laws are made by government officials. Laws must be obeyed by all. Laws set out standards, procedures and principles that must be followed. Justice is a concept that is based on equality, righteousness, ethics, morality, etc. This concept states that all individuals must be treated equal and the same. The term justice is a huge part of law and almost all aspects of law are based on this concept.
Law and justice are two words that often go hand-in-hand. These words are often confusing for many people who believe that these words are the same or refer to the same thing. However, this is not true. Law is basically a set of rules that define what is right and what is wrong, while justice also takes into consideration the circumstances that surround the right of wrong at that time. While law is a system, justice is a concept that is the basis of this particular system.
Laws are actually rules and guidelines that are set up by the social institutions to govern behavior. These laws are made by government officials that in some countries are elected by the public to represent their views. In simple terms, laws are basically things that a person can and cannot do. It is enforced by government officials such as police officers, agents and judges. Laws are ideas that must go through the process of checks, balances and votes in order for them to become a law. However, the enactment of a law varies based on the government. In an autocracy, the leader has the power to pass any law he wishes. In a democracy, the bill to enact a law must be voted on by the different parts of the government. Laws must be obeyed by all, including private citizens, groups and companies as well as public figures, organizations and institutions. Laws set out standards, procedures and principles that must be followed. A law is enforceable by the judicial system, i.e. those responsible for breaking them can be prosecuted in court. There are various types of laws framed like criminal laws, civil laws, and international laws. Breaking a law is a punishable crime and has drastic consequences such as hefty fines, jail time and community service time.
Dictionary.com defines ‘law’ as:
- The principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.
- Any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution.
- The controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance.
- A system or collection of such rules.
Justice is a concept that is based on equality, righteousness, ethics, morality, etc. This concept states that all individuals must be treated equal and the same. The term justice is a huge part of law and almost all aspects of law are based on this concept. The term as a part of law suggests that law must be right and equal for everyone; irrespective of caste, religion, ethnicity, creed, etc. Everyone must have the same rights as another. In many countries, justice if often represented using a blindfolded lady with a set of scales in her hand. In some countries such as the US, there is also a sword in her hand. The blindfold is used to depict the irrelevance of the cast, gender, etc,, while the scales is used to represent the equality in weighing competing claims in each hand. The sword is used to symbolize the court’s coercive power. Law and court are used to implement justice by providing punishment for law breakers.
Merriam Webster defines ‘justice’ as:
- The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.
- The administration of law; especially: the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity.
- The quality of being just, impartial, or fair.
- The principle or ideal of just dealing or right action: conformity to this principle or ideal.
- The quality of conforming to law.